Pet Stress Can Be Tricky, but Not When You Know What to Look For

A cat licks its nose.

Pets are highly sensitive to their people, fellow animals, and their surroundings. You can see it in the way they react in public places, or when strangers enter their home. 

But sometimes pet stress can have a cause that we cannot readily see, such as an undiagnosed health condition. Knowing what causes pet stress is important. The ability to recognize the signs of pain, discomfort, fear and anxiety is necessary for helping them through negative experiences.

Cats and Stress

Cats that feel scared, threatened, and stressed out will not act like themselves. Any sudden shifts in their behavior, personality, or habits should warrant a closer look.

Questions to ask may include:

  • Are they eating and drinking the same, or have their habits changed?
  • Are there any changes to litter box habits (such as urinating outside of their box)? 
  • Do they cry in the litter box or experience diarrhea?
  • Are they over or under-grooming themselves? What is the condition of their coat?
  • Are they suddenly more clingy, or less likely to engage than before?

Dogs and Stress

Similarly, any shifts to a dog’s eating, drinking, bathroom, and sleeping habits shouldn’t be left alone. Pet stress can make dogs act aggressively, guarding food, territory and even people. 

Fireworks, thunderstorms, and other loud, unpredictable noises are known to trigger pet stress.

Burn Off Steam

To help reduce the signs of pet stress, exercise with your pet. This is a great physical outlet for them to burn off any excess energy, and lets them know they can count on you to feel better. 

Thundershirts or compression clothing can make a big difference in dogs, whereas feline pheromone products, like Feliway, can ease a cat’s fear and anxiety. 

A Word About Pain and Pet Stress

Pet pain may not be completely unavoidable, but when you know they are hurting you can reduce stress. Most pets will try their best to hide their symptoms, a fact that emphasizes the importance of observing their daily behaviors and habits. 

That’s Different

You may notice obvious signs of pain in the way your pet walks or moves around. They may shake, wobble, twitch, limp, or generally look stiff. Check for an arched back, sensitivity to touch, tail flicking, hissing, growling, yawning or licking lips, and heavy breathing.

Shifts in their behaviors can also include grumpiness, clinginess, withdrawal, aggression, restlessness, and increased vocalizations. If any of these signs are out of character for your pet, we recommend seeking urgent veterinary care.

A physical examination of your pet is necessary, as well as laboratory tests, x-rays, and possibly other diagnostics can help us rule out health conditions that can cause stress and pain. 

A Sigh of Relief

If you know or suspect that your pet is stressed, let us know. Staying in front of developing health problems that cause or exacerbate pet stress is a priority for our team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care